What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, or fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a chronic condition that causes a widespread-pain all over the body. The NHS estimated that between 1.2 and 2.8 million people have fibromyalgia in the UK. It’s more common amongst women, with 75-90% of people with fibromyalgia identifying as women.


What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

In addition to pain all over the body, further symptoms can occur varying from person to person in both the regularity and the severity. Depending on the condition, you may suffer from:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Poor cognition
  • Poor sleep quality or insomnia
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Fibro-fog, or problems with mental processes like memory and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Fibromyalgia, like many chronic pain conditions, can also have knock-on effects on mental health. Those suffering from fibromyalgia might also experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Thoughts or actions related to self-harm
  • Thoughts or actions related to suicide

Mental health concerns such as these are common due to the stress of living with a chronic disease. It may be necessary to seek treatment and support for these conditions as well as the direct symptoms and effects of fibromyalgia.


What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause for fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s believed to be related to abnormal levels of specific chemicals in the brain, as well as changes to how the central nervous system processes pain messages carried around the body.

It’s also suspected that fibromyalgia can be passed down through family generations as children inherit genes from their parents, although there’s no conclusive proof on this.

Often, fibromyalgia is triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, including:

  • Injury or infection
  • Giving birth
  • Operations
  • Breakdown of relationships
  • Bereavement

The condition usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur at any age. It affects around seven times as many women as men. Because the symptoms can vary in severity, it can be hard to diagnose the condition. That makes it hard to be specific on how many people have it, but it’s believed to affect around one in every 20 people.


What treatment options are available for fibromyalgia?

As there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, traditional treatment options focus on managing the symptoms associated with the condition and making it easier to live with. 

Treatment is largely made up of:

  • Prescriptions for painkillers or antidepressants where necessary
  • Simple exercises to alleviate symptoms and stiffness
  • Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling
  • Lifestyle changes, such as relaxation techniques and mindfulness

There is also encouragement for people with fibromyalgia to seek support and connection with others living with the condition. As it is a chronic condition, some people find it hard to come to terms with. Having contact with charities and organisations such as Fibromyalgia Action UK has been shown to help lift the spirits of those with fibromyalgia.

These support networks and talking therapies are particularly relevant and helpful for those suffering with fibromyalgia who also find themselves struggling with mental health concerns.


How can medical cannabis help with fibromyalgia?

When traditional medicine can’t help manage the chronic pain and other symptoms related to fibromyalgia, medical cannabis could be an alternative. Two studies, one from 2010 and one from 2018, both show evidence of cannabinoids helping people suffering from fibromyalgia manage their symptoms, specifically in pain management.

Specifically, medical cannabis has been shown to have analgesic effects, meaning it can minimise the feelings of pain without causing loss or disruption to consciousness. In addition, some forms of medical cannabis have shown to improve sleep in patients with fibromyalgia and can even be a substitute for other medications. Many people with fibromyalgia end up taking various prescription medicines, so reducing that intake of chemicals with more natural substances is often advisable.

For some people, medical cannabis can provide relief from symptoms of fibromyalgia like chronic pain, muscle stiffness, and headaches, among others. At The Medical Cannabis Clinic, we offer treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors. They can guide you through treatment options available from the clinic.

Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary. Appointments start from only £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to guide you through your treatment options.

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